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Old 03-13-2021, 04:19 PM   #1
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Join Date: Mar 2021
Posts: 3
Cool Planning help

Hello all, I'm new to the community and I've been in love with the nomad life style for some time and I want to do it in the utmost comfort possible. I'm planning my skoolie build and I definitely need to do a roof raise as I'm 6'8. I have a few questions:
  • what did you use/ what will I need?
  • are there different ways to raise the roof, if so please elaborate?
  • how high is too high for bridge clearance, etc
  • and any tips or suggestions

Much appreciated

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Old 03-13-2021, 04:57 PM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jollyblackgiant View Post
Hello all, I'm new to the community and I've been in love with the nomad life style for some time and I want to do it in the utmost comfort possible. I'm planning my skoolie build and I definitely need to do a roof raise as I'm 6'8. I have a few questions:
  • what did you use/ what will I need?
  • are there different ways to raise the roof, if so please elaborate?
  • how high is too high for bridge clearance, etc
  • and any tips or suggestions
Much appreciated
Typical skoolie roof height with standard ceiling is usually 10"0'. The higher line roof models can add up to 4-6", so call it 10'-8" for good measure. Height with roof raise simply depends on how much you add.

Max legal roof height without an oversize / overheight situation (requires permits) is 13'6" (standard semi trailer height). What this means is that your skoolie can legally be 13'6" tall before it requires special permits. Many bridges on many highways allow for more due to being on routes that are specified by DOT for transporting overheight and overwidth loads, but these loads do require special permits if they are over 102" (8'6") wide, or 13'6" tall. Length restrictions tend to vary by state.

Things to remember. More roof height doesn't just mean the bus will be taller. It will also be more top-heavy, and more susceptible to high winds, special considerations when driving. So just because you CAN raise it to 13'6" overall height without issue, doesn't necessarily mean you should. I would raise it enough that you are comfortable, but not much more than that. Reason being it really sucks having to turn around in (sometimes) close quarters with idiots who don't understand why you have to do it, simply because you have to backtrack 15-40 miles to take an alternate route.

As for bridge heights, they will vary, and there is no set formula or uniform range of heights for this bridge or that bridge. They're either too low for you to clear or there's just enough room. And I would not attempt to clear any bridge that is within 2-4" of your completed height, because the signs CAN be wrong. If the road has been repaved, pack snow or ice, they can be wrong. Another reason not to attempt clearing one that is close is that any dip in the roadway beneath the bridge can cause clearance to change rapidly, especially with a longer-length vehicle.

A 40-footer with a 2' roof raise may not be able to clear the same 12'5" bridge that a 26-footer with a 2' roof raise can, because the longer length means any dip on either side will cause the roof to raise or lower suddenly, and a longer vehicle will be much more likely to hit because of the difference in length and wheelbase.

One other thing to consider is that tunnels (and some bridges) are arched, and the posted height is actually at its highest point, which can mean it is up to 18-24" (perhaps more) shorter, at the sides. So even though you might be 12'9" tall, for example, a 13'5" bridge or tunnel can still mean trouble if you are too close to the outer edges. This is quite common in the NorthEast and on some turnpikes.

These are all reasons to keep roof raises to a minimum. Mostly due to safety, but you'll find it more convenient to stay under 11'0" if possible. Makes it much less likely to have an 'oopsie' moment. Another recommendation is to get a trucking or RV GPS and input your correct height, weight, length and width as completed. But do NOT trust it implicitly. They have been known to be wrong -- which is why you have to get in the habit of reading the posted height signs and be able to determine whether you can safely clear or not.

As for doing roof raises, different people will use and recommend different methods. Most simply strip the interior sheet metal, and remove windows that can be removed, then cut the roof ribs and front / rear roof caps to allow raising it. Some use screw-type lifts similar to transmission jacks to support the roof while support is cut and raised, but there are various ways to do so, that method simply makes it easier to raise it.

At the front, some choose to cut just above the front windshield, while others leave this section alone, 'ramping' the roof to meet the raised section. One member has even grafted a salvaged minivan rear hatch door glass for a skylight using the 'ramp' method.

For the sides, I recommend cutting above the window line, leaving as many as possible in place for visibility. You then cut the roof 'ribs' front to rear, and you can either choose to cut above the rear windows.

You can then weld extender rails to rettach the roof 'ribs' after raising the roof shell, leaving the windows in their original location. Be sure, however, to make sure the the bus is sitting level and that the roof is sitting level before welding anything in place. If it is not, it will never look right, and a slant toward the front will keep rain sheeting off the nose over the windshield, making it harder to keep clear in rain.

So with all this in mind, go forth with caution, and good luck!
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